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Uno Chicago Grill hopes to boost traffic with revamped menu

Even as casual dining operators continue to wrestle with the weakened economy, Frank Guidara, president and chief executive of Uno Chicago Grill, said the chain’s most recently revamped menu is helping to boost customer counts.

The menu, which was launched this summer by the West Roxbury, Mass.-based chain, added 19 new dishes and removed 15, he said.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen constant customer counts increases like this,” Guidara said. “We’re plusing in sales this quarter.”

The redesigned, “easy to use” menu includes a new Chopped Power Salad, small-plate tapas available in the bar, and a focus on more healthful items like a whole-grain and a thin-crust pizza crust.

The casual dining chain also debuted some more unusual items including Farro Salad, Indian-inspired Chicken Tikka Masala and a salted caramel sauce topping the bread pudding. However, Guidara said those items have not performed as well.

“But I hesitate to take them off,” he added. “Some things like that may need a little bit of a push. We’ll have our servers sample them, show pictures of them on the menu. We may change the name or the price.”

He said he isn’t certain, though, how much more time he’ll give the more adventurous dishes.

Meanwhile, Uno’s signature deep-dish pizza has remained a constant. Pizza sales are “rock solid,” he said. “It stays the same every week.”

Guidara also said the chain, which traditionally makes seasonal food and beverage adjustments, will not introduce a fall menu this year. He said he wanted to give his team time to adjust to revamped menu before adding new dishes.

Owned by Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp., Uno Chicago Grill operates or franchises some 160 restaurants in 24 states. The parent company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer.

Contact Pam Parseghian at [email protected].

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